Stressed about planning a family Thanksgiving dinner? Overwhelmed at the prospect of planning a menu? Stuck trying to choose the perfect green vegetable for the big dinner?
Take the guesswork out of your Thanksgiving planning and follow this step-by-step plan for dinner, complete with a timeline. We even have you covered with the perfect just-like-homemade dessert.
- cranberry sauce
- stuffing (baked separately)
- sweet potatoes on the side
- broccoli, boiled or steamed
- bumpkin pie
- Take turkey out of refrigerator.
- Preheat ove.
- Make pie.
- Make stuffing to bake separately.
- Trim broccoli, wrap and save in refrigerator.
- Make cranberry sauce.
- Make sweet potatoes, will go in oven with turkey.
- Season turkey and put in oven.
- Put big pot of salted water on stove with steamer basket.
- Set up coffeemaker.
- Clean up kitchen, take a shower and get dressed for company.
- Turkey’s done, can sit one hour.
- Pour juices off turkey, let fat rise in refrigerator.
- Make gravy.
- Stuffing and sweet potatoes done, will stay hot 30 minutes.
- Put wine and other drinks on buffet or table.
- Bring broccoli water to a boil.
- Carve turkey.
- Put cranberry sauce on table.
- Put baked stuffing and sweet potatoes on table.
- Cook broccoli.
- Bring broccoli to table.
- Meal time.
- Enjoy meal.
- Flick on coffeemaker.
- Serve pies.
The biggest surprise to new cooks is that canned foods usually avoided by purists aren’t across-the-board offenses. One of the most reliable canned products is pumpkin pulp (often labeled as solid-pack pumpkin). Without a real pumpkin to peel, boil or roast, seed and mash, these pies come together quickly. You don’t even need a mixer, only a whisk.
Here’s a shortcut sure to horrify culinary elites: Go buy a package of pre-made pie shells. You can get good quality, even whole wheat pastry. Thaw them slightly. They’ll be just soft enough to re-crimp the edges with your fingers so they look homemade.
- Take crusts out of freezer to partially thaw. Preheat oven to 400 F. Set rack on lowest notch.
- Get out a big mixing bowl. Whisk pumpkin, cream and milk. Whisk in eggs one by one. Whisk until smooth.
- Whisk in sugar and spices.
- Re-form pie dough edges with thumb and forefinger to remove tell-tale stamped-out fork imprints, so they look homemade. Place pie plates on a cookie sheet (to catch any drips).
- Fill shells with pumpkin filling (each will hold about 2 cups)
- Bake at 400 F for 8 minutes. Set a timer! Reduce heat to 350 F and bake 35 minutes more. Pies are done when a knife inserted into center comes out clean.
Zester Daily contributor Elaine Corn is a James Beard Award-winning cookbook author and food editor. A former editor at the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Sacramento Bee, Corn has written six cookbooks and contributed food stories to National Public Radio.
Photo: Bumpkin pie, on Grandmother Shirley Siegel’s china inherited by the author.
Credit: Elaine Corn